Turner Field was close to being empty Monday night, and there is a good reason. The Atlanta Braves have been one of the worst offensive teams this season, ranking second to last in runs scored. Atlanta’s pitching on the other hand, has been phenomenal ranking in 6th in ERA and 1st in quality starts.
It’s not that Atlanta isn’t talented, in my opinion they’re one of the more talented teams in baseball. The Braves biggest problem is they squander so many opportunities to score and their usually striking out during those at bats. Atlanta has struck out 1,260 times so far this season, that is the fourth most in baseball. Nobody wants to go watch a game in Atlanta cause to be honest it’s an embarrassment, this team was in the division race till a few weeks ago if that tells you how bad they have been down the stretch. Atlanta is now a .500 team at 75-75 with 12 games left this season. I almost forgot to mention the last time the Braves won a playoff series was 2001, when they swept the Houston Astros. Atlanta has lost eight straight postseason series since then. This is a team that is built to make a postseason run now, not next season.
The Braves will have a long offseason, most likely headlined by the firing of Fredi Gonzalez, who in my opinion has lost this team. The Braves haven’t played with passion in a long time, and that is on the manager. Gonzalez always looks puzzled and confused at what is going on. I would have fired him after getting swept by the Texas Rangers, the worst team in baseball this season. I would also fire Frank Wren, he has made so many questionable decisions. Examples are signing BJ Upton to a five-year 72.5 million dollar deal, yes Braves fans you have three more years of Upton, thank you Wren. Oh yeah I almost forgot, Wren also signed Dan Uggla to an extension in 2011 for five years 62 million. What is Wren problem, why sign a declining 31-year-old player to a five-year deal. The Braves released Uggla this season, but he’s still owed 13 million next season. Next season the Braves will owe those two players almost 28 million dollars. The only good thing Frank Wren has done lately is extend the contracts for Freddie Freeman, Craig Kimbrel, Julio Teheran, and Anderalton Simmons. The Braves struggles started around the time they cut Uggla, since July 18 they are 22-32. I’m not saying that it had any effect on the team, but I find it odd. I’m definitely not saying the Braves should have keep him around. The fact is that Uggla was a leader in the locker room, the Braves are one of the youngest teams in baseball, and they looked up to him. Apart of me says they shouldn’t have released him until the offseason, when the other players could cope with the departure of a teammate they had grown accustom to. Just Uggla has a leader would have helped the Braves down the stretch, and I think that is when Fredi Gonzalez lost this team.
The Braves will have to make these decisions soon. I think the Braves will have a completely different team next season. Justin Upton and Jason Heyward contracts expire after the 2015 season and I will not be surprised if they trade both players this before the trade deadline next season. I would go ahead and trade both of them if I was the Braves and package BJ Upton along with one of them. Both J. Upton and Heyward are at their highest trade value, entering the prime of their careers. Plenty of teams will be shopping for outfielders this season. Hypothetically the Braves could trade the Upton Brothers away, which will open salary to sign Heyward back, but I highly doubt that will happen. Christian Bethancourt has proved to be major league ready the last few months which could prompt Atlanta to trade Evan Gattis away.
The Braves will have to make tough decisions, but they are decisions that need to be made. I can guarantee you the Braves will see less fans in the seats (which is hard to imagine since there aren’t many people there now) if Fredi Gonzalez and Frank Wren are still apart of this organization come opening day 2015. I don’t have any ideas who the Braves should look at to replace Wren and Gonzalez, but I do know there are plenty of better options than these two. I think the Braves need a fresh start, and personally don’t need to hire someone who is associated with the franchise now.
Do you think the Braves should fire Wren and Gonzalez, and if you do who would you pick as their replacement?